It’s been sixteen years since AWS made its Simple Storage Solution (S3) available to a third party, yet, despite innumerable advances in cloud infrastructure, services, and use cases, many organizations are still unsure (or perhaps unconvinced) of the cloud’s value proposition. In our experience, those organizations that are still contemplating whether they should use the public cloud are sometimes mired in the wrong discussions – service companies talking about cloud migration factories, vendors talking about hybrid cloud, and customers talking about results. At Infinitive, we like to keep things simple: we focus on understanding our customers’ strategic objectives to allow open communication about business results, structured around cloud use cases.
This article highlights eight cloud use cases commonly found in enterprises and one or more of the strategic benefits to which they are generally aligned: 1) save money, 2) generate more revenue by developing faster / better, 3) generate more revenue by analyzing data with more sophistication and 4) some combination of the prior three.
These use cases are listed in order of “cloudiness”, where the first items on the list use less of the public cloud’s capabilities while the latter items use more.
- Cloud storage: Primary goal – save money. Enterprises are sometimes required and often desire to keep data for long periods of time. This includes data that is not actively being used such as backup and archive data. Enterprises are increasingly finding that using the public cloud to store both types of data can be financially compelling.
- Dev / test: Primary goal – develop faster / better. In-house developers frequently find themselves with a significant delay between requesting in-house resources and getting those resources from the infrastructure “powers that be”. One relatively easy answer to that problem is to allow developers to develop and test in the cloud but run the developed applications behind the corporate firewall.
- Disaster recovery / High availability (DR/HA): Primary goal – save money. Many enterprises find themselves managing not only production datacenters, but disaster recovery and high availability sites as well. Moving these functions to the public cloud reduces the need for capital and operating expenses for private datacenters but can cost a considerable sum in cloud charges from the Cloud Service Provider (CSP).
- Run existing virtualized apps “as is”: Primary goal – save money. Also known as “lift and shift” in which enterprises move virtualized workloads from on-prem to the public cloud. In the case of common virtualization environments, the Cloud Service Providers (often in conjunction with the virtualization vendors) offer specific environments for this use case. For example, VMWare Cloud on AWS or IBM Cloud for VMWare Solutions.
- Presentation tier: Primary goals – hybrid – develop faster / better, save money. Companies often have three tiered applications with a presentation tier, a business logic tier, and a data tier. The best practice is to move the presentation tier into the cloud while keeping the business logic and data tiers behind the firewall. The cloud resources for the presentation layer can be rapidly adjusted up and down in scale based on demand which saves money. Once in the public cloud, presentation tier developers have access to a myriad of tools to allow them to build faster.
- Data warehousing: Primary goals – hybrid – save money, analyze data with more sophistication. Enterprises frequently conclude that their on-premises data warehouses are expensive and rigid. As they contemplate upgrades for their on-premises capabilities public cloud-based alternatives are often considered. The cloud-based data warehouses can be cheaper and have leading capabilities like Extract – Load – Transform rather than Extract – Transform – Load. Finally, the performance characteristics of data warehouses built to run on an elastic infrastructure can be striking.
- Modern application development: Primary goal – develop faster / better. In his now famous Wall Street Journal Op-Ed in 2011 Marc Andreessen said, “software is eating the world” and “all companies must become software companies”. Both are true. However, as technology evolves the hallmarks of next generation software development includes agile methods, a squad-based organization, microservice architectures, NoSQL databases (in addition to SQL databases), container-based architectures and continuous integration and deployment. In other words, a complete re-thinking of the old ways of developing monolithic, single database applications using a waterfall methodology. The new approach to application development requires new tools. These tools are easily accessible in the public cloud.
- Advanced capabilities: Primary goals – hybrid – develop better / faster, analyze data with more sophistication. As the public cloud has evolved from infrastructure-as-a-service to an advanced development environment and then to an analytical engine it has created non-infrastructure capabilities that most enterprises cannot economically replicate behind their firewall. Services like AWS Alexa, AI products like Google TensorFlow, the IBM Quantum Experience make it clear that many of the most advanced capabilities in the world are only available via the public cloud. R&D operations in enterprises from industries such as oil & gas, financial services, and pharma are accessing the public cloud because they can’t get these advanced capabilities anywhere else.
Infinitive helps organizations navigate the complexities of the cloud and optimize its benefits to achieve cost savings, faster innovation, and clearer insights. If your organization is still considering moving to the cloud or wants to dive deeper into the cloud’s capabilities, start a conversation with our experts today.